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This avant-garde anthology that presents and defines the New Weird—a hip, stylistic fiction that evokes the gritty exuberance of pulp novels and dime-store comic books—creates a new literature that is entirely unprecedented and utterly compelling. Assembling an array of talent, this collection includes contributions from visionaries Michael Moorcock and China Miéville, mod This avant-garde anthology that presents and defines the New Weird—a hip, stylistic fiction that evokes the gritty exuberance of pulp novels and dime-store comic books—creates a new literature that is entirely unprecedented and utterly compelling. Assembling an array of talent, this collection includes contributions from visionaries Michael Moorcock and China Miéville, modern icon Clive Barker, and audacious new talents Hal Duncan, Jeffrey Ford, and Sarah Monette. An essential snapshot of a vibrant movement in popular fiction, this anthology also features critical writings from authors, theorists, and international editors as well as witty selections from online debates. Contents Introduction: The New Weird: “It’s Alice?” by Jeff VanderMeer “The Gutter Sees the Light That Never Shines” by Alistair Rennie “Watson’s Boy” by Brian Evenson “Cornflowers Beside the Unuttered” by Cat Rambo “Jack” by China Miéville “In the Hills, the Cities” by Clive Barker “Forfend the Heaven’s Rending” by Conrad Williams “Locust-Mind” by Daniel Abraham “Tracking Phantoms” by Darja Malcolm-Clarke “Constable Chalch and the Ten Thousand Heroes” by Felix Gilman “The Lizard of Ooze” by Jay Lake “Festival Lives: Preamble: An Essay” by Jeff VanderMeer and Ann VanderMeer “At Reparata” by Jeffrey Ford “Immolation” by Jeffrey Thomas “The Art of Dying” by Darja Malcolm-Clarke “Whose Words You Wear” by K. J. Bishop “The Neglected Garden” by Kathy Koja “Letters from Tainaron” by Leena Krohn “The Luck in the Head” by M. John Harrison “Crossing Cambodia” by Michael Moorcock “Death in a Dirty Dhorti” by Paul Di Filippo “All God’s Chillun Got Wings” by Sarah Monette “The Braining of Mother Lamprey” by Simon D. Ings “The Ride of the Gabbleratchet” by Steph Swainston “A Soft Voice Whispers Nothing” by Thomas Ligotti “European Editor Perspectives on the New Weird: An Essay” by Martin Šust, Michael Haulica, Hannes Riffel, Jukka Halme, Konrad Walewski “The New Weird: I Think We’re the Scene” by Michael Cisco “New Weird Discussions: The Creation of a Term” by various authors


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This avant-garde anthology that presents and defines the New Weird—a hip, stylistic fiction that evokes the gritty exuberance of pulp novels and dime-store comic books—creates a new literature that is entirely unprecedented and utterly compelling. Assembling an array of talent, this collection includes contributions from visionaries Michael Moorcock and China Miéville, mod This avant-garde anthology that presents and defines the New Weird—a hip, stylistic fiction that evokes the gritty exuberance of pulp novels and dime-store comic books—creates a new literature that is entirely unprecedented and utterly compelling. Assembling an array of talent, this collection includes contributions from visionaries Michael Moorcock and China Miéville, modern icon Clive Barker, and audacious new talents Hal Duncan, Jeffrey Ford, and Sarah Monette. An essential snapshot of a vibrant movement in popular fiction, this anthology also features critical writings from authors, theorists, and international editors as well as witty selections from online debates. Contents Introduction: The New Weird: “It’s Alice?” by Jeff VanderMeer “The Gutter Sees the Light That Never Shines” by Alistair Rennie “Watson’s Boy” by Brian Evenson “Cornflowers Beside the Unuttered” by Cat Rambo “Jack” by China Miéville “In the Hills, the Cities” by Clive Barker “Forfend the Heaven’s Rending” by Conrad Williams “Locust-Mind” by Daniel Abraham “Tracking Phantoms” by Darja Malcolm-Clarke “Constable Chalch and the Ten Thousand Heroes” by Felix Gilman “The Lizard of Ooze” by Jay Lake “Festival Lives: Preamble: An Essay” by Jeff VanderMeer and Ann VanderMeer “At Reparata” by Jeffrey Ford “Immolation” by Jeffrey Thomas “The Art of Dying” by Darja Malcolm-Clarke “Whose Words You Wear” by K. J. Bishop “The Neglected Garden” by Kathy Koja “Letters from Tainaron” by Leena Krohn “The Luck in the Head” by M. John Harrison “Crossing Cambodia” by Michael Moorcock “Death in a Dirty Dhorti” by Paul Di Filippo “All God’s Chillun Got Wings” by Sarah Monette “The Braining of Mother Lamprey” by Simon D. Ings “The Ride of the Gabbleratchet” by Steph Swainston “A Soft Voice Whispers Nothing” by Thomas Ligotti “European Editor Perspectives on the New Weird: An Essay” by Martin Šust, Michael Haulica, Hannes Riffel, Jukka Halme, Konrad Walewski “The New Weird: I Think We’re the Scene” by Michael Cisco “New Weird Discussions: The Creation of a Term” by various authors

30 review for The New Weird

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This may be the best collection I've read in a decade. I'd been through Mieville and Vandermeer, cut my teeth on Lovecraft, a pile of slipstream, Barker, but I didn't feel as though I had much of a handle on what "New Weird" was or why I was drawn to it. Boy, I loved every story in this volume, including the oddly vulgar Rennie story at the end. Perhaps if slipstream makes you feel 'a little strange' (and the _Feeling Very Strange_ anthology would make a nice companion to this book), New Weird ma This may be the best collection I've read in a decade. I'd been through Mieville and Vandermeer, cut my teeth on Lovecraft, a pile of slipstream, Barker, but I didn't feel as though I had much of a handle on what "New Weird" was or why I was drawn to it. Boy, I loved every story in this volume, including the oddly vulgar Rennie story at the end. Perhaps if slipstream makes you feel 'a little strange' (and the _Feeling Very Strange_ anthology would make a nice companion to this book), New Weird makes you feel EXTREMELY STRANGE, as well as dizzy, unsettled and slightly queasy. I recommend this collection to anyone with a passing fancy for any of the writers therein.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    Overall, not a bad anthology, mixing elements of horror, sci-fi and fantasy. Most of the stories are not original to this book, so if you're a fan of the authors, it's likely you've read them before. They tend toward the dark, extreme and often grotesque and disgusting, so if that's not your scene, you probably won't enjoy. My main issue with the book is its tendency toward navel-gazing. It should have just stuck with presenting the work, rather than going on and on about how to define the term " Overall, not a bad anthology, mixing elements of horror, sci-fi and fantasy. Most of the stories are not original to this book, so if you're a fan of the authors, it's likely you've read them before. They tend toward the dark, extreme and often grotesque and disgusting, so if that's not your scene, you probably won't enjoy. My main issue with the book is its tendency toward navel-gazing. It should have just stuck with presenting the work, rather than going on and on about how to define the term "new weird," reprinting online forum arguments, and asking random industry people what they think of it. The introduction is also 'weirdly' full of China-Mieville-hero-worship. Not that Mr. Mieville doesn't necessarily deserve it, but it was slightly odd. Basically, I don't care about ultra-narrow genre-defining; let's just skip to the stories, and let them speak for themselves! Contents: Introduction “The New Weird: ‘It’s Alive?’ Jeff VanderMeer Stimuli M. John Harrison “The Luck in the Head” Michael Moorcock “Crossing into Cambodia” Clive Barker “In the Hills, the Cities” Simon D. Ings “The Braining of Mother Lamprey” Kathe Koja “The Neglected Garden” Thomas Ligotti “A Soft Voice Whispers Nothing” Evidence China Mieville “Jack” Jeffrey Thomas “Immolation” Jay Lake “The Lizard of Ooze” Brian Evenson “Watson’s Boy” K .J. Bishop “The Art of Dying” Jeffrey Ford “At Reparata” Leena Krohn “Letters from Tainaron” Steph Swainston “The Ride of the Gabbleratchet” Alistair Rennie “The Gutter Sees the Light That Never Shines” (original) Discussion “New Weird: The Creation of a Term” Michael Cisco “‘New Weird’: I Think We’re the Scene” Darja Malcolm-Clarke “Tracking Phantoms” K. J. Bishop “Whose Words You Wear” “European Editor Perspectives on the New Weird” (featuring the views of Michael Haulica from Romania, Martin Sust from the Czech Republic, Hannes Riffel from Germany, Konrad Waleski from Poland, and Jukka Halme from Finland) Laboratory (Original round-robin story) “Festival Lives” Preamble: Ann and Jeff VanderMeer View 1: “Death in a Dirty Dhoti” Paul Di Filippo View 2: “Cornflowers Beside the Unuttered” Cat Rambo View 3: “All God’s Chillun Got Wings” Sarah Monette View 4: “Locust-Mind” Daniel Abraham View 5: “Constable Chalch and the Ten Thousand Heroes” Felix Gilman View 6: “Golden Lads All Must…” Hal Duncan View 7: “Forfend the Heavens’ Rending” Conrad Williams Recommended Reading Biographical Notes

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ross Lockhart

    I’ve been reading The New Weird lately, Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s recent Tachyon collection of the sort of bizarre, visceral, urban fantasy that’s had the placard card reading “New Weird” hung about its neck for the past few years. If anything, this collection seems a younger sibling to the 2004 Thunder’s Mouth Press anthology New Worlds. New Weird certainly owes a debt to the New Wave (the inclusion of M. John Harrison’s “The Luck in the Head” makes this undeniably clear), and it is M. John Harr I’ve been reading The New Weird lately, Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s recent Tachyon collection of the sort of bizarre, visceral, urban fantasy that’s had the placard card reading “New Weird” hung about its neck for the past few years. If anything, this collection seems a younger sibling to the 2004 Thunder’s Mouth Press anthology New Worlds. New Weird certainly owes a debt to the New Wave (the inclusion of M. John Harrison’s “The Luck in the Head” makes this undeniably clear), and it is M. John Harrison himself, in the included Web discourse “New Weird Discussions: The Creation of a Term” who suggests “New Weird” as “a better slogan than The Next Wave.” But whereas the New Wave SF that appeared in New Worlds was unified by publication in a single magazine, The New Weird draws from the wide world of SF publications, including stories that appeared in Flytrap, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Interzone, among others. The stories included in The New Weird comprise a grand, audacious mix, as is its arrangement. The book strives wildly to create a definition for the subgenre. From the first section, “Stimuli,” which includes the aforementioned M. John Harrison story, Clive Barker’s “In the Hills, the Cities,” Simon D. Ings’ “The Braining of Mother Lampry,” and Thomas Ligotti’s “A Soft Voice Whispers Nothing,” the bar is set high, though Kathe Koja’s “The Neglected Garden” seems more lit-fic “weird” than “New Weird” and Michael Moorcock’s “Crossing into Cambodia” seems an odd choice considering its Cold War-era post-apocalyptic setting. In my opinion, Moocock’s “London Bone” would have been a far better choice to represent the postpagan sensibilities of the New Weird. Beyond that, the next three sections, “Evidence,” “Symposium,” and “Laboratory” offer mixed results. China Méiville’s “Jack” is every bit as good as it was in Looking for Jake. Jeffrey Thomas’ “Immolation” seamlessly joins the standard SF tropes of clones and offworld colonies to the urban grotesqueries of the New Weird. And K. J. Bishop’s “The Art of Dying” connects elegantly to the fin de siècle grace of her 2004 novel, The Etched City. Any of these stories alone would be worth the price of admission. Jay Lake’s “The Lizard of Ooze,” like many of his Dark Towns stories, seems a punny and punishing one-joke punch (though that joke is a reversal of Swiftian proportions) in search of a purpose. Perhaps a tale set in his City Imperishable would have better suited the collection. The gathering of criticism comprising the “Symposium” is perhaps the most valuable element of the The New Weird, inviting repeated readings and critical analysis for years to come. The “Laboratory,” on the other hand, is best described as forty pages of filler. Reminiscent of “The Challenge from Beyond,” a round-robin Weird tale by H. P. Lovecraft, C. L. Moore, A. Merritt, Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long, “Festival Lights” is a rambling mess with plenty of star power, but little cohesion. Missing from the collection is anything from Jeff VanderMeer’s Ambergis, an editorial decision which makes me wonder if perhaps another editor could have assembled a more comprehensive collection. For many, perhaps even most, Science Fiction is robots, rockets, and rayguns; movies and television programs with the word “Star” in the title (Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica); or conventions where comic-book caricatures of comic-book geeks run rampant in Dr. Who and Klingon costumes. But for those who dare to look a little bit deeper, Science Fiction is a literature of ideas, in fact, a continuum of ideas, blending philosophy and a sense of wonder. It is the intersection of the fantastic and the human. As Damon Knight once asserted, “Science Fiction is what we point to when we say it.” As a SF subgenre, New Weird bears the same characteristic DNA. What is New Weird? Why, it’s what we point to when we say “New Weird.” In short, The New Weird is an attractive volume examining a burgeoning SF subset. Though it attempts to be a definitive word on the subject, it falls a bit shy of such lofty ideals by declaring the movement over, though its best may still be yet to come. “New Weird is dead,” writes Jeff VanderMeer in the introduction. “Long live the Next Weird.” Bollocks. Long live the New Weird.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Merl Fluin

    DNF. You say "new weird", I say "dreary urban fantasy", let's call the whole thing off.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    Introduction: The new weird : "It's alive?" / Jeff VanderMeer -- The luck in the head / M. John Harrison -- In the hills, the cities / Clive Barker -- Crossing into Cambodia / Michael Moorcock -- The braining of Mother Lamprey / Simon D. Ings -- The neglected garden / Kathe Koja -- A soft voice whispers nothing / Thomas Ligotti -- Jack / China Miéville -- Immolation / Jeffrey Thomas -- The lizard of ooze / Jay Lake -- Watson's boy / Brian Evenson -- The art of dying / K.J. Bishop -- At Reparata / Jeffrey Fo Introduction: The new weird : "It's alive?" / Jeff VanderMeer -- The luck in the head / M. John Harrison -- In the hills, the cities / Clive Barker -- Crossing into Cambodia / Michael Moorcock -- The braining of Mother Lamprey / Simon D. Ings -- The neglected garden / Kathe Koja -- A soft voice whispers nothing / Thomas Ligotti -- Jack / China Miéville -- Immolation / Jeffrey Thomas -- The lizard of ooze / Jay Lake -- Watson's boy / Brian Evenson -- The art of dying / K.J. Bishop -- At Reparata / Jeffrey Ford -- Letters from Tainaron / Leena Krohn -- The ride of the Gabbleratchet / Steph Swainston -- The gutter sees the light that never shines / Alistair Rennie -- New weird discussions : the creation of a term -- "New weird" : I think we're the scene / Michael Cisco -- Tracking phantoms -/ Darja Malcolm-Clarke -- Whose words you wear / K.J. Bishop -- European editor perspectives on the new weird / Martin S̆ust ...[et al] -- Festival lives : preamble / Ann and Jeff VanderMeer -- View 1: Death in a dirty dhoti / Paul Di Filippo -- View 2: Cornflowers beside the unuttered / Cat Rambo -- View 3: All God's chillun got wings / Sarah Monette -- View 4: Locust-mind / Daniel Abraham -- View 5: Constable Chalch and the ten thousand heroes / Felix Gilman -- View 6: Golden lads all must / Hal Duncan -- View 7: Forfend the heavens' rending / Conrad Williams.

  6. 4 out of 5

    John

    I enjoy Lovecraft, Mieville, pulp sci-fi, so I thought I would love this volume and was eagerly awaiting its publication. Alas, I am somewhat disappointed. Though I appreciate (on an intellectual level) the tortuous hand-wringing that accompanies the authors' attempts to define or simply talk about a genre that could be called "New Weird" (there is an entire section of the book devoted solely to a discussion among various authors about what New Weird is, whether it needs a name, and why), the st I enjoy Lovecraft, Mieville, pulp sci-fi, so I thought I would love this volume and was eagerly awaiting its publication. Alas, I am somewhat disappointed. Though I appreciate (on an intellectual level) the tortuous hand-wringing that accompanies the authors' attempts to define or simply talk about a genre that could be called "New Weird" (there is an entire section of the book devoted solely to a discussion among various authors about what New Weird is, whether it needs a name, and why), the stories are not always great. There are some gems (Clive Barker's story -- which was originally published in his Books of Blood -- is fabulous) but most read as if they are weird for weird's sake. Maybe that's the point of "New Weird," but many of these stories seem to lack the uncanny horror and political urgency that characterizes the work of other "weird" authors like Lovecraft and Mieville (who does have a previously published story in this volume). And without these elements, "weird" just doesn't seem all that meaningful.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rodney

    I'm going to read this, Interfictions, and Feeling Very Strange back-to-back and write a longer review for all three, but I will say about this one that it seems to focus on genre stories that have eccentricities that tilt them into the literary realm. Yes, the characters and plots are very odd, often with no connection to any human reality, but the prose itself is very pulpy, intentionally and self-consciously so. Most of these are not much more capital-w Weird than the stories I grew up with i I'm going to read this, Interfictions, and Feeling Very Strange back-to-back and write a longer review for all three, but I will say about this one that it seems to focus on genre stories that have eccentricities that tilt them into the literary realm. Yes, the characters and plots are very odd, often with no connection to any human reality, but the prose itself is very pulpy, intentionally and self-consciously so. Most of these are not much more capital-w Weird than the stories I grew up with in Dozois's and Datlow's anthologies. For instance, one of my old favorites "A Hypothetical Lizard" by Alan Moore would seamlessly fit right in here. My biggest gripe about this book is that 300 pages of it are short stories and about 120 pages of it are hand-wringing about what does or doesn't constitute "New Weird." I really couldn't care less, and I think the importance of this book was that it inspired a new generation of speculative authors (Sofia Samatar for instance) going forward, rather than--as the content seems to have been intended--to define something that had already happened.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    I didn't quite finish every piece of this but certainly enough to make a fair assessment. I consider myself a fan of the New Weird in general, though I guess in retrospect I've only read a few novels I would class as such. A surprisingly small fraction of this book is actually dedicated to presenting a wider palette in that genre beyond Mieville, Swainston, and VanderMeer. Only one of five parts is composed of New Weird shorts, and while some of these are plenty good, I just found the selection I didn't quite finish every piece of this but certainly enough to make a fair assessment. I consider myself a fan of the New Weird in general, though I guess in retrospect I've only read a few novels I would class as such. A surprisingly small fraction of this book is actually dedicated to presenting a wider palette in that genre beyond Mieville, Swainston, and VanderMeer. Only one of five parts is composed of New Weird shorts, and while some of these are plenty good, I just found the selection generally underwhelming. I think Swainston has an enviably cool narrative voice, and Mieville's always a pleasure, but even those two stories feel somehow more like fragments of a novel than independent short stories. I skipped the Krohn excerpt, since I'd already read the whole thing and disliked it. And the Bishop, Thomas, and Lake stories were all to a greater or lesser degree plagued by the same problem I had with Kameron Hurley's Bel Dame Apocrypha (the only book I've read that would class as New Weird that wasn't mentioned in this collection). That is, they are full of punk and noir attitude and densely creative world building, but somehow fall short in the execution and end up feeling like those genre defining traits are the tail wagging the dog. They feel like standard world building dump genre fiction with a wider palette. The Rennie story is entertaining enough but not enough; it was also maybe closer to Caleb Wilson's bizarro weird than the New Weird proper. Brian Evenson and Jeffrey Ford are both authors I've been reading up on outside of this collection around the same time, and in general I'm not sure I would even group them in this genre. At Reparata is alright but far from Ford's best. Evenson's Watson's Boy is maybe the best inclusion in this whole collection, with a compellingly sparse world in the vein of Kafka or Borges that serves as a nice palate cleanser between the exuberance of the other authors. Also not one of Evenson's best, though, in my estimation. The second section is a good idea for a collection like this but also an even less enjoyable collection a fiction on its own merits. It represents the editors' best guess of the precursors of the New Weird genre. Some of the connections are clearer than others (I'm not sure I get why this specific Moorcock story was included) and some of the stories are better than others, including some that were new to me, like the Ing and Koja. I didn't like this Ligotti any more than I've liked most of his stories, and I'm beginning to get a bad feeling about Harrison too. The rest of the book is something I find quite annoying, though. Both the introductory essay by Jeff VanderMeer and the forum discussion printed seemingly in its entirety are simply handwringing about the definition and validity of the genre label. As an adherent of cultural evolution, the nature of the problem seems a bit more straightforward to me, and the kinds of answers you would want to find are not really represented in this discussion. But what I really found annoying about this was simply the fact that the existence of this collection settles once and for all the very same question it spends so many pages litigating. Some people might find this candid discussion among professional authors interesting for other reasons, but I found it mostly tiresome. The collaborative story in the final part was something I just didn't have the patience to engage with right now. Better stuff to read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John

    One of the best anthology collections I've come across for some time. This is almost Dangerous Visions level for me with the sheer number of excellent writers in here. This is an attempt to revamp HP Lovecraft's Weird Tales for the current century. While not "Outsider Art", these are often literate pulp stories or at least bizarro fiction. It's got throughlines back to Jack Vance's Dying Earth, Mervyn Peake, New Wave Scifi and Horror. It can be traditional and avant garde (Lynchean but with books One of the best anthology collections I've come across for some time. This is almost Dangerous Visions level for me with the sheer number of excellent writers in here. This is an attempt to revamp HP Lovecraft's Weird Tales for the current century. While not "Outsider Art", these are often literate pulp stories or at least bizarro fiction. It's got throughlines back to Jack Vance's Dying Earth, Mervyn Peake, New Wave Scifi and Horror. It can be traditional and avant garde (Lynchean but with books). It's a cross-pollination of genres, the basically line being that it's got to be weird.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Wizzard

    I like the book as a project but the stories in the book were not always very memorable. I liked them while I read them and I am glad that I read them but they were a mixed bag. Again, not mixed in terms of uneven quality because they all were very well-written. Just some of the stories didn't do much for me. I am changing my rating from three stars to four stars. I liked the two new features of the book-- the selection of essays that ask "What is the New Weird" and includes authors and editors I like the book as a project but the stories in the book were not always very memorable. I liked them while I read them and I am glad that I read them but they were a mixed bag. Again, not mixed in terms of uneven quality because they all were very well-written. Just some of the stories didn't do much for me. I am changing my rating from three stars to four stars. I liked the two new features of the book-- the selection of essays that ask "What is the New Weird" and includes authors and editors from the Western sci-fi world chiming in in various dialogue and response. Great! Thought provoking! Clear! I also liked the story that was jointly written, "Festival Lives" where 8 or so hot authors wrote a chapter each in a fun on-going story that I wish were a full novel. From the book I discovered a few authors I had not heard of including China Meillville who I've already enjoyed his Perdido Street Station. The book did what anthologies should do-- help you find more authors that you enjoy and want to read further.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    So far this anthology has some very interesting and disturbing stories in it. But here's the most disturbing thing: there are no significant women characters. None. There's even a story of a pair of lovers traveling through eastern Europe but, guess what? They are both MEN. What is up with that? ============= Finished reading. This collection of stories is unique in my experience. Bizarre. Strange. Weird. New. It takes some getting used to but is well worth it. There are even a couple of stories a So far this anthology has some very interesting and disturbing stories in it. But here's the most disturbing thing: there are no significant women characters. None. There's even a story of a pair of lovers traveling through eastern Europe but, guess what? They are both MEN. What is up with that? ============= Finished reading. This collection of stories is unique in my experience. Bizarre. Strange. Weird. New. It takes some getting used to but is well worth it. There are even a couple of stories at the end that have women in them. And the collection of "stuff" that follows the stories is actually an interesting discussion of what this genre, New Weird, really is and how it came/is coming about. Turns out New Weird is a conglomeration of SF, Fantasy, Literary and Horror. I think the literary aspect and the overall sense of decay are what struck me the most. It's not for everyone but you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't check it out and see if it is for you.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lane

    Ever since reading Perdido Street Station, I've been a sucker for anything described as New Weirdish. Sometimes my enthusiasm for the sub-genre/style/movement/whatever-the-hell-you-call-it has been more fervent than my appreciation for the examples of it I read. So it was nice to find that even the stories by authors whose novels I disliked (ah screw it, I'm referring to K.J.Bishop and The Etched City) I liked in this anthology. That said, none of the stories really quite reached the levels that Ever since reading Perdido Street Station, I've been a sucker for anything described as New Weirdish. Sometimes my enthusiasm for the sub-genre/style/movement/whatever-the-hell-you-call-it has been more fervent than my appreciation for the examples of it I read. So it was nice to find that even the stories by authors whose novels I disliked (ah screw it, I'm referring to K.J.Bishop and The Etched City) I liked in this anthology. That said, none of the stories really quite reached the levels that the New Weird novels I've enjoyed reached. What really sets the anthology apart is its mix of fiction, criticism, and experimentation and the hybrid state The New Weird achieves somewhere between story anthology and textbook.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides

    I've never cared much for the horror genre*, and perhaps that's why I started reading each of the first four stories in this book and gave up and skipped to the next one before deciding to abandon the volume entirely. The intro informed me that one of the things that distinguishes New Weird from slipstream and interstitial fiction is influence from the horror genre, along with an eschewing of "postmodern techniques that undermine the surface reality of the text (or point out its artificiality)." I've never cared much for the horror genre*, and perhaps that's why I started reading each of the first four stories in this book and gave up and skipped to the next one before deciding to abandon the volume entirely. The intro informed me that one of the things that distinguishes New Weird from slipstream and interstitial fiction is influence from the horror genre, along with an eschewing of "postmodern techniques that undermine the surface reality of the text (or point out its artificiality)." *I make an exception for zombies, though I tend to think of that as SF.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cale

    As with any collection, the stories are somewhat hit or miss. The precursor stories were actually weaker than the current examples; Watson's Boy was my favorite, though At Reparata was the most emotional. New Weird as a style is the fever dream of Fantasy and Science Fiction, focused on grotesque organics and oppressive places. A large section of the book is devoted to defining the style, which devolves to arguments about whether or not it's worth it to even try, but getting past that and you ge As with any collection, the stories are somewhat hit or miss. The precursor stories were actually weaker than the current examples; Watson's Boy was my favorite, though At Reparata was the most emotional. New Weird as a style is the fever dream of Fantasy and Science Fiction, focused on grotesque organics and oppressive places. A large section of the book is devoted to defining the style, which devolves to arguments about whether or not it's worth it to even try, but getting past that and you get some very interesting and unique stories.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    I tried to read the whole anthology, I really did. However, I found the introduction to be less educational than condecending. I attempted to start several stories, but could finish none but China Mieville's Jack [which was the story that drew my attention to the anthology in the first place]. Perhaps I don't "get" the sub-genre, but I just couldn't engage with this material.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

    This book is split into sections and this review focuses solely on the sections containing the short stories. What I can tell about this "genre" from the sampling here is that it gorges itself on bizarre details. These authors are shaping worlds and introduce so many new ideas often in so rapid a succession it all comes as much too much. Silly, futuristic sounding words and names are almost mandatory in these stories and become comical and predictable, like some sort of random generator was bein This book is split into sections and this review focuses solely on the sections containing the short stories. What I can tell about this "genre" from the sampling here is that it gorges itself on bizarre details. These authors are shaping worlds and introduce so many new ideas often in so rapid a succession it all comes as much too much. Silly, futuristic sounding words and names are almost mandatory in these stories and become comical and predictable, like some sort of random generator was being used too liberally. Otherwise it is anachronistic or techno garble that serves the set dressing for the tales. "The Luck in the Head" is a moderate in its approach with silly names but its recognizable desolate future rings true and there is a good measure of body horror splashed in 3/5. "In the Hills, the Cities" a grotesque, surreal story that slowly engages the reader is the most grounded in reality but delivers a potent punch 4/5. "Crossing into Cambodia" is simply a fictional account of WW3 and was boring and unpleasant 1/5. "The Braining of Mother Lamprey" was a story going crazy with the wordplay but is wildly creative and actually manages to be funny, in fact being the only story in this entire collection with that honor 5/5. "The Neglected Garden" is another body horror story about a scorned woman turning herself into a plant. It's actually way creepier and much better written than it has any right to be 4/5. "A Soft Voice Whispers Nothing" is a fantastic existential yarn with lasting imagery and a cold philosophical punch 4/5. "Jack" possibly the best example of slowly mixing in the weird with the normal is told in a clever way and feels to me, one of the most soundly complete of these stories 3/5. "Immolation" was a bit dull but nonetheless uses scifi as a means of examining that moral implications of yadda yadda 2/5. "The Lizard of Ooze" was a too much story that I found embarrasing and un-creative 1/5. "Watson's Boy" a rehash of one of my favorite Borges' stories manages to tease out the horror and inject a potent dose of David Lynch in for good measure 4/5. "The Art of Dying" is not very good 1/5. "At Reparata" was very entertaining and really left me wanting more even though the story itself ends satisfactorily 5/5. "Letters from Tainaron" was an excerpt so I am skipping it. "The Ride of the Gabbleratchet" suffered the most from the much too much syndrome and I found my eyes rolling even though a lot of clever ideas were presented 3/5. "The Gutter Sees the Light That Never Shines" is hiding behind a lot of symbolism to appear deep here and yet struggles to appear like it's not trying to appear deep? Either way, annoying 2/5.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Shumate

    Taken as a whole, this collection of "New Weird" stories might be overwhelming in its surreal, boundary-breaking excess, but read little by little, these examples of "fantastic" writing which relies on no outworn traditions and tropes is refreshing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ursula Pflug

    My review of this wonderful book is up at The Internet Review of Science Fiction. IROSF has folded, sadly, but their wonderful archives remain online. http://www.irosf.com/q/zine/article/1... July, 2008 The New Weird A Review of the Anthology by Ursula Pflug The New Weird Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer Tachyon Publications, trade paperback: 432 pp., US$14.95 ISBN-13 9781892391551 The New Weird begins with a ten-page footnoted introduction by Jeff VanderMeer. Later on, in the section entitled Symposi My review of this wonderful book is up at The Internet Review of Science Fiction. IROSF has folded, sadly, but their wonderful archives remain online. http://www.irosf.com/q/zine/article/1... July, 2008 The New Weird A Review of the Anthology by Ursula Pflug The New Weird Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer Tachyon Publications, trade paperback: 432 pp., US$14.95 ISBN-13 9781892391551 The New Weird begins with a ten-page footnoted introduction by Jeff VanderMeer. Later on, in the section entitled Symposium, we find critical essays by Michael Cisco, Darja Malcolm-Clarke, and K.J. Bishop, whose short fiction is also represented by "The Art of Dying." As well as the original internet thread started by British author M. John Harrison in which various writers and editors attempt to define New Weird, there are notes from several European editors. The internet discussions are well-known and oft linked to but will benefit those who are not yet in the know. What is there to know, exactly? A thumbnail definition of New Weird: a sub-genre which merges elements of science fiction, fantasy and horror, while being written in a literary prose style. It may include all or some of the following: •Fantastic cities, including their bazaars. •Bug-like monsters. •Metaphysics. •Decadence of one sort or another. •Strange things to eat and drink. •A pervasive sense of (possibly metaphysical) creepiness. •A political sensibility. The editors and contributors know full well that the moment you've defined a subversive and groundbreaking sub-genre it's over, open to the hacks and the copycats, but they also argue that categories and definitions help to sell books. Starving writers, particularly of clever literature of the fantastic, who are unfortunately marketed on the same shelf as the unwashed hordes deserve all the help they can get. It is editors like the VanderMeers and their compatriots at Prime, Nightshade, Wheatland, Tachyon, Small Beer, and other independent small presses who are changing the face of speculative publishing by showcasing more slipstream, New Wave fabulist, and interstitial authors. Not only that, but they publish excellent anthologies I actually want to read, such as The New Weird, said by all and sundry to be the definitive anthology, much as Stirling's Mirrorshades was the definitive cyberpunk anthology. That will probably turn out to be the case, yet the VanderMeers and many of the included writers and editors are a little too thoroughly steeped in a postmodern world view to take themselves entirely seriously while they set about writing manifestos, and this is something I find greatly appealing. Nevertheless, I wish there had been a bit less in the way of copious editorializing, and a few more stories. The stories are the thing, to my mind. They are divided into Stimuli, meaning New Weird antecedents and influences; Evidence, which includes more recent examples of New Weird fiction, and the final Laboratory, in which Paul Di Filippo, Cat Rambo, Sarah Monette and other writers get together to create "Festival Lives," a bit of a send-up that, while fun, could possibly have been omitted in favor of more stories in Stimuli and Evidence. The six stories in Evidence were mainly published in the eighties, except for Michael Moorcock's 1979 "Crossing into Cambodia," dedicated to the Russian writer Isaac Babel. Moorcock's wonderful tale brought to mind Goeff Ryman's multiple award-winning novella "The Unconquered Country," which I first read in Interzone in 1982 and which I much prefer to "Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter," Ryman's more recent Cambodian story. Both Moorcock's piece and Ryman's novella discuss, among other things, what often happens to young women in countries at war. In Moorcock's story it's the depressing usual, while in Ryman's they grow weapons in their wombs, which is a pretty New Weird idea itself, although that story is not included here. This is not a criticism, as I can only imagine the contortions the VanderMeers went through to put together their short-list. I first read M. John Harrison in early '80s Interzone too, and his "The Luck In The Head" is also included in Stimuli. I was glad to read it, as it caused me to reflect that his strange cities have influenced my own. Kathe Koja is the only woman writer included in Stimuli, with her story "The Neglected Garden," in which an angry young woman attaches herself to the backyard fence where she begins to sprout flowers and foliage, garnering further abuse from her boyfriend, this time in the form of herbicides. That may sound funny, but described in Koja's lissome prose, it's elegantly Goth, and honestly horrific. Thomas Ligotti's "A Soft Voice Whispers Nothing" is a gentle metaphysical nightmare. Its 1997 publication date also makes it the most recent of the Stimuli stories. Clive Barker's "In The Hills, the Cities" describes a nice young gay couple traveling through Eastern Europe to work on their relationship. In Yugoslavia they stumble upon a strange rite in which rival cities build giants harnessed together out of human beings which fight one another to the death. In Barker's hands this implausible idea becomes persuasively creepy, yet at the same time, comedic. Simon D. Ing's "The Braining of Mother Lamprey" follows an apprentice mage in a future world where magic has superseded science, apparently to no great gain, as Ing's rival wizards seem more interested in using their magic for nasty purposes than, say, for creating world peace. We root for young Ashura as he navigates his strange city trying to save his winsome pregnant girlfriend Foxtongue. Evidence includes British authors such as Steph Swainton and Alistair Rennie, and I seem to remember that someone in one of the many editorials makes the point that New Weird is mainly British in origin, but this is kind of like discussing the origins of various sorts of rock n' roll, reserved for true fans with time on their hands. Here's an image: galloping horses whose flesh strips away to reveal the skeleton; these same skeletal horses continue to gallop whilst being ridden by the protag's sidekick Cyan. They regrow their flesh and plunge into the ground as well as in and out of assorted dimensions, which they are able to do because they aren't really horses but something called the Gabbleratchet. Swainton's story "The Ride of the Gabbleratchet" is a stand-alone from her novel The Modern World. It seemed at times tongue-in-cheek and this is also true of Jay Lake's "The Lizard of Ooze," also featuring peculiar cities, this time underground. K.J. Bishop's "The Art of Dying" concerns duelist Mona Skye, whose death wish becomes fodder for both tabloids and art critics. Death as performance is an interesting idea, yet Bishop's style struck me as a little mannered, and most successful not in action scenes but when the narrator waxes contemplative, as in this lovely bit of prose: "...she fell into a sense of being as still and untroubled as the tombs themselves, as if Time were a woman and she a babe on Time's back, and Time had put her down." This same tone of sensuous melancholia appears in Jeffrey Ford's "At Raparata," and in Finnish author Leena Krohn's "Letters from Tainaron," an excerpt from her award-winning, much-translated short novel Tainaron: Mail from Another City. In spite of the insect-like inhabitants of Tainaron, the story reads not so much as New Weird but as an unclassifiable wonder, escaping definitions and sub-genres both old and new. It feels, mostly, like a very good writer writing whatever the hell pleases her most. It goes without saying that her translator has got to be brilliant as well. However, not all readers may find Krohn's work to their taste, particularly those who prefer a more traditional story arc containing the usual, in the usual proportions: setting, character, conflict, crisis, resolution. You know the drill. "Watson's Boy" by Brian Evenson is a suffocating, heartrendingly Kafkaesque tale of a boy who lives in an ordinary apartment which is nevertheless located in a labyrinth with no access to the outside world. This story stands apart because it includes no bazaars in fantastical cities, no monsters beyond protagonist Brey's abusive father and some possibly imaginary rats, no weird public rites of mysterious origin and purpose, just a harness and a collection of keys employed to brilliant effect. "The Gutter Sees the Light That Never Shines" by Alistair Rennie is just plain hilarious, if very gory. I used to hate excessive gore but I'm discovering a new taste for it. Maybe I just need it clever and funny. Also, a small part of me would like to train with The Sisters of No Mercy. Two more Evidence stories, China Miéville's "Jack" and Jeffrey Thomas's "Immolation" concern oppressive class structures. Miéville of course is author of Perdido Street Station, the break-out New Weird novel, describing a fantastic city and its peculiar denizens in cascading detail. I preferred "Immolation" perhaps because I've had a soft spot for Jeffrey and his brother Scott ever since I read Punktown: Shades of Grey, the sequel anthology to Punktown, which showcased stories by Jeffrey alone. There's a dark heartfelt poetry in the Thomas's work, and some of their stories make me want to cry. If I find New Weird at all wanting it's because I can't read for visuals alone, however entertaining. In spite of all the fascinating cities, interesting creatures, and languorous, warrior-like or decadent characters, too many of these characters aren't provided with enough emotional depth for us to really care, and so New Weird becomes at times just a madcap romp, if a highly literate one. There's a little part of me that says, you didn't make me cry. Make me cry. I dare you. However this is once again a matter of taste, for it is perhaps the creepy silliness that many readers find most appealing. And while I have given more bandwidth to some authors than to others, every story herein is nevertheless worth reading; this anthology is a must for lovers of literate dark fiction. To paraphrase Bishop, it will not represent drowned hours in a person's life, unless we take that to mean drowned in a good way. Also, after reading this anthology I had a dream in which my beautiful friend turned without warning into a Cyclopean arachnid and while this was startling to say the least, it was not an entirely bad thing, as in his new form he was able to impart metaphysical truths known by few. If one way to grade an anthology is by its ability to provide fascinating dreams, then The New Weird gets an A+. Copyright © 2008, Ursula Pflug. All Rights Reserved. Ursula Pflug is author of the novel "Green Music" and the story collection "After The Fires." She is also a journalist, produced playwright and creative writing instructor.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Favorite stories in here: “At Reparata” by Jeffrey Ford - A self-declared royal, rich from inherited pirate treasure creates a court of misfit wanders. Everyone has bizarre titles and plays castle until their leader loses the love of his life and falls into a deep depression. The healer they employ to cure the king takes them down a bizarre pathway that pulls in elements of Gormenghast and Perdido Street Station. But the tone is still dark comedy? “The Lizard of Ooze” by Jay Lake - Trippy and does Favorite stories in here: “At Reparata” by Jeffrey Ford - A self-declared royal, rich from inherited pirate treasure creates a court of misfit wanders. Everyone has bizarre titles and plays castle until their leader loses the love of his life and falls into a deep depression. The healer they employ to cure the king takes them down a bizarre pathway that pulls in elements of Gormenghast and Perdido Street Station. But the tone is still dark comedy? “The Lizard of Ooze” by Jay Lake - Trippy and doesn't even pretend like it's going to bother explaining the backstory behind the savage inversions of the dark alternative United States, which is now full or dark cities that seem to consist of scary towns in vertical mineshafts. “Jack” by China Miéville - A clever extension of a minor character backstory from Perdido. I also really liked the seven-part experiment where different authors continued the same loosely connected story in a new New Weird city. Perhaps best of all, this collection actually achieves what it sets out to do: engage in the literary history and argument about what the "New Weird" is or might be, or why. It even reprints a long discussion board argument with some of the writers who worked in the genre, and their back-and-forth really shapes the smokey lenses through which to read all the stories, as well as the Miéville books I've read. If you're wondering what the New Weird is, exactly, well, this excerpt from that mid-00s discussion is illuminating: Stephanie Swainston: The New Weird is a wonderful development in literary fantasy fiction. I would have called it Bright Fantasy, because it is vivid and because it is clever. The New Weird is a kickback against jaded heroic fantasy which has been the only staple for far too long. Instead of stemming from Tolkien, it is influenced by Gormenghast and Viriconium. It is incredibly eclectic, and takes ideas from any source. It borrows from American Indian and Far Eastern mythology rather than European or Norse traditions, but the main influence is modern culture ― street culture ― mixing with ancient mythologies. The text isn’t experimental, but the creatures are. It is amazingly empathic.... The details are jewel-bright, hallucinatory, carefully described. Today’s Tolkienesque fantasy is lazy and broad-brush. Today’s Michael Marshall thrillers rely lazily on brand names. The New Weird attempts to place the reader in a world they do not expect, a world that surprises them ― the reader stares around and sees a vivid world through the detail. These details ― clothing, behaviour, scales and teeth ― are what makes New Weird worlds so much like ours, as recognisable and as well-described. It is visual, and every scene is packed with baroque detail. Nouveau-goths use neon and tinsel as well as black clothes. The New Weird is more multi-spectral than gothic.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sassa Margot

    This anthology of short stories was recommended to me in a creative writing workshop on speculative fiction (upscale science fiction and fantasy). I'm really glad I followed through and read the book. I'm now reading other works by the authors collected here, from China Mieville who I knew from Perdido Street Station to Clive Barker, who seems to be famous for horror, which I don't generally read, but whose story in here I loved, so...I'm going to venture into new reading waters. And isn't that This anthology of short stories was recommended to me in a creative writing workshop on speculative fiction (upscale science fiction and fantasy). I'm really glad I followed through and read the book. I'm now reading other works by the authors collected here, from China Mieville who I knew from Perdido Street Station to Clive Barker, who seems to be famous for horror, which I don't generally read, but whose story in here I loved, so...I'm going to venture into new reading waters. And isn't that the purpose of a great short story anthology? Starting with the introduction by co-editor Jeff Vandermeer, who I know of through my interest in steampunk, I found the collection to be a thoughtful and wide-ranging survey of the New Weird. The introduction is a great recap of the development of the New Weird, offering a look back to the "Old Weird" of Lovecraft and Poe and then tracing the more recent predecessors to the stories and writers collected here. If you are a student of weird fiction, meaning you want to write some and understand the movement and its antecedents and adjacent movements, then you need this book for the introduction alone. Although Vandermeer acknowledges "the pivotal 'moment' is behind us," he also notes that this moment has "already lasted much longer than generally believed, had definite precursors, and continues to spread an Effect, even as it dissipates or becomes something else." As he ends his essay: "New Weird is dead. Long live Next Weird." With fifteen stories, the collection covers the range from horror to fantastical to punk-inflected, like a chocolate box with something for every taste. Even the stories that were not personal favorites were worthy examples, with distinctive voices, memorable characters, and original weirdnesses, standout weirdnesses in a genre dedicated to the twisted and strange. The editors also included further discussion of the genre partway through the book, with a Symposium section that included four individual essays on the movement capped by a round-table discussion by European editors on their views on the genre. The editors ended the book with a "round robin" of selected "views" by non-New Weird authors of note in the fantasy realm, who were asked to co-develop a story, through their individual "views" of the genre. I'm of a scholarly bent, and the stories plus the literary discussions made for a feast. And yeah. You have got to read that Clive Barker story in here, "In the Hills, the Cities."

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cheyenne

    This was a very interesting examination of the New Weird as a genre movement (or potential movement?) The first two sections of the anthology included a variety of short stories, which of course are the main draw to the book. The stories were hit or miss for me; I liked most of them to some degree, although one of them (unfortunately the first story in the book, which made me hesitant initially) my brain just repeatedly rejected and I eventually had to DNF. That said, a few of these stories I'd This was a very interesting examination of the New Weird as a genre movement (or potential movement?) The first two sections of the anthology included a variety of short stories, which of course are the main draw to the book. The stories were hit or miss for me; I liked most of them to some degree, although one of them (unfortunately the first story in the book, which made me hesitant initially) my brain just repeatedly rejected and I eventually had to DNF. That said, a few of these stories I'd have given 5 stars, and the majority fell somewhere in the 3 or 4-star range of enjoyment. I'd imagine that there's something in here for everyone (unless you're really not into the idea of weird fiction, in which case, what are you doing reading this review in the first place, silly?) The next section included and excerpt from an internet message board conversation that initially sparked the idea for the anthology as well as several non-fiction essays written by a various authors and editors discussing whether or not they believe in the New Weird as a movement in general and, in the case of a series from foreign editors, what their perception is of the New World's presence in their country. This I found interesting from the perspective of a writer, but if I didn't write I probably would have skipped it. The last section is actually a "round robin"-style story where seven authors got together and took turns adding onto a New World story, telling their own mini-narratives within a world of their shared creation. I did not try to internally rate this section because it was more experimental, but the story was an interesting read, if unique in its structure. In general, I think this book makes a good introduction to weird fiction (at least as it stood in the 2000's) and could also serve as a text of sorts for a writer interested in expanding their writing in that direction (keeping in mind that part of the argument of the non-fiction part of this book in the first place is that an over-emphasis on labels can be dangerous because writers shouldn't be writing to fill a specific genre but rather to tell a specific story).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sín Wellroth Lång

    Most of these stories are wonderful and intriguing - some, not for the faint of heart, but that's not the case for me. I found weird with this book, and I love it immensely, even though a few stories are quite bland. But for the most part, these stories and authors are wonderful and attribute much with so little.

  23. 5 out of 5

    John

    Like all anthologies, this is a mixed bag. Some of the stories are very good. A few are marginal. The genuine tragedy of this collection, however, is that fully a quarter of the book is given over to non-short stories. While writers writing about the genre of the New Weird has some interest to the reader, this reader felt the material took up entirely too much of the book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I liked some stories more than others. But then, that's to be expected from an anthology. I really appreciate how this was put together, especially the "laboratory" section. I wish more stories were written that way! It's a fun idea.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eggp

    Folk up to no good passive-aggressive lovers sons and slaves rebel.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    This collection gave me a good feel for New Weird in all its twisted, grotesque (old-timey sense, not gross sense. Although...) glory.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Radovan Kopečný

    This book was like sex. First much of tiresome work, then sweet orgasm (China Mieville), and then falling to sleep.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Wow, this is a long book; the audiobook is three and a quarter days. It's a pretty fascinating cross section. I found some new authors to read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    David Greenwood

    Some excellent stories and critical material in this collection. Some stories feel like filler.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    Although not all of the stories in this collection were satisfying and one, "Watson's Son", I hated, the overall quality of writing and richness of imagination of the fiction is impressive. I'd only read a few writers presented in this collection before -- Moorcock, Mieville, and Barker -- and the exposure to over a dozen writers was welcome. I plan to read more from several of them: books by M. John Harrison, Simon D. Ings, Jeffrey Thomas, and K.J. Bishop have been added to my to-read list. Sta Although not all of the stories in this collection were satisfying and one, "Watson's Son", I hated, the overall quality of writing and richness of imagination of the fiction is impressive. I'd only read a few writers presented in this collection before -- Moorcock, Mieville, and Barker -- and the exposure to over a dozen writers was welcome. I plan to read more from several of them: books by M. John Harrison, Simon D. Ings, Jeffrey Thomas, and K.J. Bishop have been added to my to-read list. Stand-out stories are listed below. "The Luck in the Head" by M. John Harrison: my initial reaction was tepid, but the more I read, the more appreciative I became. The ending seemed a bit weak, but the milieu is excellent. "In the Hills, the Cities" by Clive Barker: horrific. "The Braining of Mother Lamprey" by Simon D. Ings: this story has a similar flavor to "Luck", but I found the ending immensely more satisfying. "Immolation" by Jeffrey Thomas: another story where the ending disappointed and seemed weak partially due to the strength of the rest of the text. "The Art of Dying" by K.J. Bishop: plays with fantasy tropes by challenging the notion of "hero", but goes farther than portraying anti-heroes by bringing elements more associated with contemporary culture, like journalism and celebrity, into the mix. "The Gutter Sees the Light That Never Shines" by Alistair Rennie: saturated with violence and ugliness, but so good that my initial repulsion gave way to enthusiasm. Possibly the best story in the book. Those are the stories and the first two sections of the book. The third section is theoretical speculation and critical examinations of the idea of "New Weird" -- does it exist, what is it, does it matter, who does it? I wasn't looking forward to this part of the book, but really enjoyed it once I was into it. There's a consciousness in these essays and discussions of the artificiality of labeling and the pretentiousness of the so-called "literary". The questions posed are, thankfully, not answered definitively; instead the editors have presented a selection of perspectives that seem to agree on one thing: whether or not the "New Weird" exists, a certain approach to writing genre fiction has emerged that breaks down genre conventions. I found the fourth section of the book the least satisfying; it's a round-robin piece that the editors describe as a "laboratory experiment" wherein "some of our finest fantasists generally not identified as 'New Weird'... show us their take on the term in fictional form." I've read a couple of round-robin stories recently and just think the form is inherently weak due to a lack of coherency in authorship. Accounting for that precondition, though, "Festival Lives" was a quality piece. Taken as a whole, The New Weird is a superb collection of fiction and critical writing that has a lot to offer readers who don't always appreciate the proscriptiveness of genre.

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